By Coby Enteen Project-based Learning (PBL) has gained a great deal steam and has been adopted and implemented in many forms, over the course of the last decade. Teachers invest endless hours in dissecting topics, planning activities, writing questions, organizing […]
by Coby Enteen Mobile devices are slowly transforming the educational landscape for teachers on a global scale. In a recent trip to Africa I had the opportunity to work with local K-12 teachers on utilizing and incorporating digital tools into the […]
by Coby Enteen The introduction of 21st century knowledge and skills as a focal point for educational initiatives has reignited discussion as to the role of the teacher in the classroom. Educators have been attempting for years to initiate a […]
Written by Coby Enteen Social networks are gradually becoming commonplace in the K-12 classrooms. Teachers have awoken to the fact that 12-18 year old’s spend much of their after-school hours socializing online, and they only started to realize the value of […]
by Coby Enteen Tablets are quickly becoming the ideal solution for school 1-to-1 programs. They provide a simple, lightweight, low-cost option for seamlessly incorporating technology into the classroom. Here are reasons why: 1. Simple, Lightweight Solution – The deployment of laptops into classrooms […]
By Coby Enteen
Project-based Learning (PBL) has gained a great deal steam and has been adopted and implemented in many forms, over the course of the last decade. Teachers invest endless hours in dissecting topics, planning activities, writing questions, organizing information, consulting with fellow educators, correlating to standards, and learning new technologies only to discover that the PBL unit takes up too much time and is largely out of synch with the school schedule, requirements, and other teaching taking place in the school. In addition, inquiry-based learning (IBL) has largely been viewed as an effective means for improving the understanding of science concepts, and developing much needed critical thinking skills among students (Edelson, Gordon, & Pea, 1999). Although tremendously effective in some environments, the IBL approach involves a great deal of preparation and is largely difficult to implement. The challenges presented by these two methods, combined with the lack of teacher time and resources has brought about a third alternative, which has been coined the Question-based Learning (QBL) technique.
QBL is largely based on the principals of PBL and IBL, taking into account the constraints of the typical classroom. While PBL is designed to encourage the development of 21st century skills while promoting student thought and motivation (Blumenfeld, 1991), and IBL encourages learning that is based on investigation; QBL is designed to incorporate both methods through short and adaptable process, which combines traditional teaching with inquiry, research, product development, reporting, and assessment. Solomon (2008) argues that “introducing and implementing PBL in a traditional school setting can be a complex challenge, requiring a significant change in teachers’ approaches to teaching and students’ approaches to learning.” In reality this required ‘change in approach’ has the negative affects of leading to the disintegration of effective learning practices and methods. The QBL process provides a more practical and adaptable instructional approach, as illustrated below (figure 1).
When effectively implemented, the QBL method provides an attainable framework for teachers to deliver content in a flexible, yet dynamic fashion. Students engage in traditional learning activities for knowledge acquisition, transition into discovery learning and research, then work collaboratively to integrate creativity with advanced levels of thinking to both create and present products. The discovery learning approach fits in well with QBL, because it allows students to actively investigate and explore new content, while developing sound strategies for learning the new material (McDaniel & Schlager, 1990).
QBL is an effective process for incorporating modern-day instructional approaches into the classroom. The many constraints placed on educators, combined with the drive to improve education as a whole place a great deal of pressure on the teacher, who often finds it difficult to implement innovative methodologies in an effective manner.
Blumenfeld, P.C., Soloway, E., Marx, R.W., Krajcik, J.S., Guzdial , M., & Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating Project-Based Learning: Sustaining the Doing, Supporting the Learning. Educational Psychologist, 26(3-4), 369-398
Edelson, D., Gordin, D., & Pea, R. (1999). Addressing the Challenges of Inquiry-Based Learning Through Technology and Curriculum Design. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 8(3-4), 391-450.
McDaniel, M., & Schlager, M. (1990). Discovery Learning and Transfer of Problem-Solving Skills. Cognition and Instruction,7(2), 129-159.
Solomon, G. (2008, 11). Project-Based Learning: a Primer .Classroom Technology News | Educational Apps | Bloom’s Taxonomy | techlearning.com. Retrieved Oct 21, 2013, from http://techlearning.com
by Coby Enteen
Mobile devices are slowly transforming the educational landscape for teachers on a global scale. In a recent trip to Africa I had the opportunity to work with local K-12 teachers on utilizing and incorporating digital tools into the classroom.
This program took place in Ghana, which is a country with approximately 20 million people, of which 90% complete primary school grades and only a very small percentage move on to finish a twelfth grade education, and even fewer achieve a post secondary education.
A majority of the schools in Ghana lack the technological resources and facilities that we have become accustomed to in the western world. In the larger cities, some schools have computer labs and teachers use their own laptops where available. Another issue is the lack of internet access and instability of the electrical system, which is often times overloaded and causes blackouts.
The one aspect “leveling the field” is the increased access to mobile devices. It is very common to see individuals walking around with two mobile devices; one for work and one for personal use. These devices offer tremendous opportunities for the advancement of the field of education, particularly as related to the ability to teach 21st century skills and to provide easy access to information commonly available to individuals throughout the western world.
A number of barriers still remain to the effective incorporation of these devices into the classroom:
- High cost of data – In many developing countries where food and health care are still a main concern, individuals are unable to afford the high cost of data, which is buoyed by little competition within the cellular communication market.
- Breaking the traditional teaching model – Although digital education has become a commonplace term throughout the western world, the concept of educational transformation and 21st century skills is still a foreign concept to a majority of educators throughout the developing world.
- Opening the eyes of educators to the possibilities of technology in education - Teachers throughout the developing world often times lack the basic skills required for utilizing the technology for teaching and for guiding student work.
Mobile devices are slowly flattening the world in terms of bringing technology into the classroom. The lack of computers and other technologies within the educational arena in the developing world is being supplemented by the widespread availability of mobile devices. We must overcome a number of obstacles in order to meet this challenge and support educational change.
Some highlights that should be noticed are:
- 93% of students use study apps
- 70% of students study solo during exams
- 59% of students use a mobile phone to study
- 42% of students have as favorite place to study their bedroom30% of students prefer to use Google Drive.
Working to better prepare its nation’s students to thrive in a fast-changing and highly-connected world, the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) is promoting the development of self-directed and collaborative learning skills in its third Master Plan for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Education. As an MOE-designated “Future School in Singapore” and a Mentor School in theMicrosoft Innovative Schools Program, Nan Chiau Primary School (NCPS) is playing a vital role in pushing the frontier of technology to prepare its students for the future.
by Coby Enteen
The introduction of 21st century knowledge and skills as a focal point for educational initiatives has reignited discussion as to the role of the teacher in the classroom. Educators have been attempting for years to initiate a ‘paradigm shift’ in terms of the role of the teacher with the classroom; from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’. However, very few have been able to turn this change into a reality.
When technology was first introduced into the classroom, educators believed that computers would speed up change and that teachers would finally let go of old habits and capitalize on digital resources as a means of transforming the classroom. This did occur on a very small scale, where forward-thinking teachers understood the value of the technology in terms of encouraging student inquiry and a higher- level of discourse in the classroom. However, for the most part teachers continue to serve as a single source of knowledge and the technology is used as a supplementary resource if at all.
One of the most significant trends of the past decade is the introduction of 21st century skills into teaching and learning. Although academia is still wresting with the most accurate definition of these skills and practices, they have become the cornerstone for nearly all educational endeavors. So, what are these 21st century skills? The partnership for 21st Century skills (www.p21.org) defines them as: Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation. The division of Assessment and Teaching in of 21st Century Skills (ATOCS) at the University of Melbourne (www.atc21s.org) further divides these skills into 4 categories:
Transformation of teaching and learning occurs when we begin to base our instructional practices on 21st Century Skills. Educators that integrate these skills into daily practice are unable to avoid more active instruction and begin to understand the importance of allowing student to construct knowledge through the development of these skills, at which point technology plays the ‘natural’ role of enabler. This process leads to a transformation in the teaching process or an ‘instructional paradigm shift’ as illustrated in figure 1 below.
Figure 1 – 21CTI Model
Another article related to 21st century skills:
Middle school students who use mobile devices for school work are more likely to express an interest in STEM subjects, yet there’s a large gap in the number of students using the devices at home and those using them in school, according to a new survey from MIT’s Center for Mobile Learning at the Media Lab and the Verizon Foundation.
by Coby Enteen
Tablets are quickly becoming the ideal solution for school 1-to-1 programs. They provide a simple, lightweight, low-cost option for seamlessly incorporating technology into the classroom. Here are reasons why:
1. Simple, Lightweight Solution – The deployment of laptops into classrooms brought with it a great deal of physical constraints ranging from the weight of the device to the complications with charging and electricity. The tablet weighs very little and provides virtually all of the same learning resources.
2. Battery Capacity – Laptops used in the past would continuously need to be recharged, often during a lesson. This was a cause of frustration for many teachers and students and severely inhibited learning.
3. Low Maintenance - Most schools and educational organizations are dependent on large IT departments with significant budgets to run and maintain a server-client environment. Most tablets rely on cloud-storage solutions. Moreover, tablet operating systems are very solid, hardly ever get “stuck”, and are not as susceptible to computer viruses. The tablets themselves require very little technical care and maintenance, thus freeing up funding spent on IT support for other educational initiatives.
4. The Low Cost/Personal Device – The average cost of a tablet is much lower than a laptop or desktop offering schools with more flexibility and the ability to step closer to a true 1-to-1 learning solution. Tablets also enable learning experiences outside of school when provided as a personal device.
5. Apps, Apps and more Apps – Mobile device applications are slowly becoming the most popular form of software development. Every day more and more applications are being released and many of them are suitable for education.
An additional article on the subject from Digital Trends:
By Coby Enteen
I recently attended an iPad event where Nearpod was showcased as a classroom collaboration tool, and more recently introduced it into middle school classrooms. It provided the teachers with the much needed control and focus that they were lacking, and allowed them to plan their lessons more effectively and to create real student interaction. Nearpod has helped bring them closer to the goal of delivering relevant student centered learning.
Read more about Nearpod in the following article:
The American Association of School Librarians provides a great starting point for locating relevant, useful, free teacher resources. They list the top 25 online tools for teachers in virtually all content areas. I came across the site while preparing to deliver a training to teachers and curriculum experts from West Africa. I would highly recommend trying these high-quality resources in any teaching and learning environment.
Shared by Coby Enteen